I can talk a good talk when it comes to forgiveness. I think we’ve all heard about how it is for your own good that you are forgiving, about how it doesn’t let the other person off the hook or condone their actions. That’s true. The thing is though, forgiveness is hard. It’s easy to tell someone that they should forgive, but it’s a lot harder to live it.
Forgiveness is good in theory, but when it comes to:
The dad who abandoned you when you needed him most
The friend who betrayed you
The mom who chose alcohol or men over you
The church that turned its back on you
The person who hurt your child
The love of your life who didn’t love you back
The body that is giving out on you
The spouse who has broken their vows
The God who didn’t answer your prayers
The person who attacked you
The system that hung you out to dry
The husband who ignores you
The boss who fired you
The perpetrator who died before you had the chance to confront them
The man who molested you
The family member who hurts you repeatedly
The bully who made your life a living hell
The judge who took away your daughter
The loved one who lied to you
The parent who was never home
The wife who gambled away your money
The child who is rebellious
The woman who took away your husband
The bank who foreclosed on your house
…forgiveness is not easily come by. Some of the examples on the list above come from my own life. There have been times where I work hard at forgiveness and am able to finally get there only to realize later that there is more work to be done. Sometimes I forgive and then something will trigger the feelings again and I need to forgive the same person for the same thing all over again. Other times, the person hurts me again in the same way and I have to forgive them for the new hurt as well as forgive them again for the past hurts. It’s not simple.
But forgiveness heals. It allows you to love a person while hating their action. It allows you to move forward. The pain of the situation cannot be overcome without first forgiving the person responsible. Sometimes, the person that you need to forgive is you.
Forgiveness does not mean that you have to maintain a relationship with the person who hurt you. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily even have to tell them that you forgive them. It doesn’t require that you like them or that you forget about what was done. It means that you let go. That you give yourself freedom. That you unlock the shackles that are holding you down.
What I’m asking for today in day 17 of this challenge towards having the life you want is that you write down the things you need to forgive yourself for. Maybe you’ve let yourself down by not keeping the promises you made to yourself or by making choices you aren’t proud of. Maybe you are held back by your shame. Whatever it is that you need to forgive yourself for, do it today. There may be ways of avoiding others in your life who have hurt you, but there is no way of avoiding yourself, which is why starting your forgiveness journey here will make the biggest difference.
Once you’ve written your list, work through whatever emotions you have and then as silly as it may sound, express your forgiveness out loud, being as specific as possible.
Like anything else, with practise, it becomes easier. Once you have practised forgiveness on yourself, begin forgiving others. Start with the smallest hurts to continue gaining practise and work your way up to the biggest ones. Be sure to notice how much lighter you feel even after intentionally forgiving the small hurts so that you can build the courage you will need to confront the larger hurts.
Forgiveness frees and it heals.
When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines upon you. ~ John Krakauer, Into the Wild
Join me this month as I share ways to help you move towards the life you want to live. Join me in the challenge. Ready to jump off the cliff?